A Word from Father Reese
The Rev. Thomas Reese, visiting scholar at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif., and the author of several books on the Catholic Church, said there may be problems interpreting the document because its language is different from the language of professionals who study human sexuality.
He believes its intent is to stop the ordination of any seminarian who has ongoing homosexual inclinations, even if that person is living a completely chaste life. But because there is no definition of "deep-seated homosexual tendencies," some bishops, seminary rectors and religious superiors may find some wiggle room, he said.
Father Reese said that arguments based on the sexual abuse scandal do not stand up to scrutiny.
"When you talk to the people who treated these abusive priests, you find that a lot of the ones who abused boys were in fact heterosexual" but targeted boys because they seldom spent time with girls or women, he said.
No one knows how many gay men are in the priesthood, although most estimates indicate the percentage is significantly higher than in the general population. The document will hurt such men who have served faithfully, Father Reese said.
"The Vatican is basically saying, 'We made a mistake in ordaining you.' That is going to be devastating morale-wise," he said.